Wandsworth people caught dropping smoking-related litter will be able to swap their fine for a voucher if they manage to curb the habit.

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The pilot scheme, due to begin in December, will see those dropping cigarette ends or packets receiving a £30 shopping voucher if they can prove they have completed a council- commissioned stop smoking course and successfully given up.

The initiative aims to tackle the issue of cigarette butts littering pavements, while improving people's health.

It comes following a report earlier this year which revealed the rate of people dying of lung diseases was higher in Wandsworth than the national average.

Health spokesman Councillor Jim Maddan said: "We know that 65 per cent of smokers want to quit, but often they don’t know where to turn for help. This scheme will help them find that help."

Pocket ashtrays promoting local stop smoking services are to be distributed alongside the scheme, and litter education exercises will be held across the borough.

However, Simon Clark, director of the smokers' group Forest, said: "We don't condone anyone who drops litter but targeting smokers smacks of discrimination. Is the council going to target people who drop sweet wrappers or chewing gum? Will they be offered courses instead of fines?

"If councillors want to reduce litter they should provide enough bins so people have no excuse for dropping cigarette butts."

Amanda Sandford, information manager at charity Action on Smoking and Health welcomed the scheme and hoped it would encourage people to stop and think about their habits.

She said: "People may question the rationale. But it’s not a reward. If they don’t take the offer they will have to pay a fine."

This is not the first scheme of its kind, with similar initiatives having been tried in other parts of the country, such as Enfield and Maidstone, in recent years.

Earlier this year Wandsworth Council launched a similar scheme in order to help tackle obesity in the borough.